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PICTURE OF SUCCESS FOR JAMAICA’S LOCAL SUPPLIERS Jamaica Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett recently previewed the new artisan village under construction along the historic Falmouth Port—a $5.7 million project with 47 shops scheduled for completion by year’s end—at a walkthrough where he highlighted the project’s importance in creating opportunities for small and medium businesses. He told that forms part of the destination’s overall strategy to increase earnings among local suppliers, and another potential project could do the same for the sleepy beach town of Lucea. Bartlett later shared that “Lucea is very much on our radar,” with plans to establish new attractions and reinvigorate its historic sites like the 18th-century Fort Charlotte, along with opening up the roads to tourism expansion by building a bypass for Lucea.

ARUBA HOSTS MICHELIN-STARRED POP-UP DINNERS Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort’s Windows on Aruba restaurant hosted the Caribbean’s largest Michelin pop-up dinners from June 7-8. Featuring an extravagant five-course meal from chefs with eight combined Michelin stars, as well as wine pairings from Pepia-Est Aruba, the evening was not only decadent, but also displayed of some of the Netherlands’ top culinary stars – with the participating chefs, all hailing from the Netherlands, including François Geurds, Erik Van Loo of Parkheuvel, Edwin Vinke of De Kromme Watergang and Jermain de Rozario.

CURAÇAO INTERNATIONAL DIVE FESTIVAL A full schedule of fun activities designed around adventure, education and conservation—and showcasing Curaçao’s worldclass scuba offerings—has been planned for the 2019 Curaçao International Dive Festival. With events planned so far kicking off Sept. 30 with “Blues Monday” and featuring everything from a sustainable marketplace to beach parties, there will be plenty to dive into outside of the water as well.

CARIBBEAN HOTELS POST STRONG OCCUPANCY & REVENUE GROWTH The Caribbean hotel industry is welcoming a strong run of occupancy and revenue growth. According to STR’s April report, occupancy was up 1.1% in March – at 74.8% and good for the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year growth (for the first time since 2015). Average daily rates rose 8.5% to $279.41, and revenue per available room rose 9.7% to $209.11. For the year, occupancy stood at 72.8%, 1.1% more than 1Q2018; daily rates were up 8.8% to $266.44; and revenues were up 10% to $193.88.

“We wish to increase the room stock, first to pre-hurricane levels, and secondly to expand,” Said Premier Andrew Fahie on April 5, continuing that the goal is to add 5,000 beds within five years.

VIEQUES TO CHECK IN NEW HOTEL The island of Vieques in Puerto Rico will soon feature a new $50 million hotel. Set on the sea in the area of Esperanza, the 118 -unit, 16-villa Zafira St Clair is already under construction and will also feature a restaurant, spa and nightclub when opening around February 2021. “We want all tourists who come to Puerto Rico to know the wonders and the charm of Vieques; it is a true jewel…” said Keith St Clair, CEO of the St Clair Collection. About half of the projected investment will be dedicated to the construction phase, which will generate some 180 direct jobs and more than 50 indirect jobs. Once operational, the Zafira resort is expected to create 60 direct jobs.

Photo of Saint Lucia by @wiiiam.a (IG)

BVI TO WELCOME 5,000 EXTRA BEDS WITHIN FIVE YEARS BVI Government is reportedly introducing a major tourism development plan that will see thousands of additional accommodations for overnight visitors by 2024.

Photo by @juanca787 (IG)

SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE 53

Profile for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Travel & Cruise 2nd Quarter 2019